John McCormick writes: Patrick’s impending departure leaves me quite unmoved. It’s just on a year since I saw him score the opener at Spurs, after which he disappeared as they swept past us. And that seems to epitomise his play since. What does move me is not only how will we replace him but how will David Moyes rebuild a squad that is depleted, underskilled and getting older by the minute? Pete Sixsmith may have some of the answers in his report on events at Hetton:
WELCOME BACK LYNDON (NOT SON OF GRAHAM).
Another Sunday lunchtime, another Premier League 2 game at Hetton as Liverpool rolled up in their rather smart Ellisons Starcruiser, fresh from an overnight stay at the Raddison on Durham’s waterfront. After last Sunday’s comfortable victory over a young Cardiff City team, this was the real McCoy with two strong teams going at it in a more physical way than is usually the case for this oft maligned competition.
That it ended 0-0 suggests there was a midfield stalemate and few chances. In fact, the opposite was the case as both teams attacked, created decent goal scoring opportunities and put in crunching tackles. For Lynden Gooch, returning from a nine week layoff, it was what he needed and the young USA international was fully involved for the sixty two minutes that he spent on the pitch.
That was ten minutes more than Joel Asoro who was carried off on a stretcher after a cynical and unpleasant trip by Jordan Williams who was presumably trying to prove to the Liverpool management that he deserves a chance in the next seriously weakened team that Jürgen Klopp puts out. A stronger referee would have dismissed him. Mr Oldham, whose strength of refereeing character resembled the physical strength of Charles Hawtrey, declined to issue a red and continued to have a poor game.
Ethan Robson hit the bar with an audacious free kick in the second half and towards the end, Luke Molyneux (a name to strike fear and foreboding in Liverpool hearts) did the same after a delightful pass by Josh Maja put him in.
Maja replaced Gooch on the hour and the more that I see of this young man the more I like him. He is strong, competes in the air and has an eye for a pass. One superb ball put the forceful Andrew Nelson through and it took a good save by Reds keeper Kamil Grabara to thwart him.
A decent start for the new managerial team of Elliot Dickman and Cliff Byrne, promoted from within to succeed Andy Welsh, who has taken off to Wigan Athletic as first team coach and academy manager.
This was my second game of the weekend as I had fired up the trusty Mazda and headed for a Fifth Round FA Vase tie between Cleethorpes Town and Atherton Collieries, the conquerors of the first team dear to M.Salut’s and mine hearts, Shildon.
It was an easy drive through the flatlands of North Lincolnshire to the village of Bradley and the Bradley Football Development Centre, where The Owls share with Grimsby Borough. Bradley appears to consist of one muddy street, an old church and the kind of houses where the curtains twitch and the Neighbourhood Watch number is called when a stranger walks through.
Atherton brought a couple of hundred supporters with them including one man wearing a black and white striped suit similar to the ones that some Newcastle United fans might have worn in the clubs glory days of the 1950’s. Another wore a beret and had whitened his face but when I suggested that he looked like Marcel Marceau, the celebrated and incredibly tedious French mime artist, feigned a lack of knowledge of MM. Atherton is clearly a hotbed of surrealism as they were carrying blow up saxophones a la Rene Magritte. Crazy town, crazy guys.
They led 2-0 as half time approached and looked comfortable. Then, they allowed the best player on the park, Cleethorpes’s Liam Davies, to get one back in the 44th minute and that changed the mood.
Apparently, Davies is a local restaurateur and joined Cleethorpes from National League North Gainsborough Trinity as he was fed up of having to travel to places like Brackley, Gloucester and Chorley. Atherton will be cursing his restaurant as he scored an excellent second half equaliser and then set up a 90th minute winner for The Owls that thoroughly deflated the self-styled Barmy Army and their colourful saxophones. Note to new readers; always be wary of people who style themselves as a Barmy Army; they are usually gits.
The drive home was enlivened by the news of the Rafalution coming unstuck at Oxford, the wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth at Liverpool losing three home games in a week – loved the comment that Jake posted on Facebook by the loyal Reds fan who said he wouldn’t watch another LFC game until they won five in a row – and the fish and chips at The Frying Pan in Wetherby. I have been going there for over 40 years and I have rarely been disappointed in the product on sale there. There are few things better than scoffing haddock and chips and looking at the vacuum cleaners, tumble dryers and digital radios on sale in Bright Ideas next door. I truly am a man of simple tastes.
The one blight on the day was the news of the death of John Hurt. He had a few connections with my trip as his father was a vicar in Sunderland in the 1930’s before the arrival of John, who presumably came into this world smoking a Senior Service, hence his raspy voice. He then became the vicar of a church in Grimsby – spooky or what….
We met him (John, not the vicar) a few years ago in The Lamb in Bloomsbury, before a game with Arsenal. We were sat supping pints of Youngs while he sat at the bar with a whisky. We approached him carefully and he admitted to being the man who had an alien burst out of his chest as well as being one of the stately homo’s of England when he pertrayed Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant.
He chatted for a while, said that he often looked for Sunderland’s results and that his father was affected by the poverty he saw in the North East. He had visited the city a couple of times to see where Hurt Senior had guided his flock. He thought it would be into the nearest pub.
He was a splendid actor and one who was always worth watching. May he have an eternal supply of good malt whisky and Senior Service.
Finally, best wishes to Malcolm Dawson, oft of this parish who is recovering from an unpleasant but hopefully successful operation. It means he will miss the next few home games – lucky sod!!